The opening round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs is suddenly filled with 3-2 series drama after the Rockets and Celtics pulled out upset wins on Wednesday night. The Thunder tried a hack-Asik approach, but it backfired. The Knicks couldn't shoot straight, while Boston's offense came alive. Things just got interesting, as both of the underdogs forced a Game 6 scenario on their home courts. Meanwhile, the Pacers dispatched the Hawks with ease to go up 3-2 in that series.
The Rockets still believe they can stun the Thunder, and on Wednesday night they did exactly that in a do-or-die game in OKC. Houston came out and blitzed Oklahoma City with timely three-point shooting and aggressive perimeter defense. The Rockets never trailed at any point during the final 36 minutes, thanks to 31 points on 10-16 shooting from James Harden and an impressive 21-point, 11-rebound double-double from Omer Asik.
Harden drained seven of his nine three-point attempts to keep the Houston offense humming, but Asik came up with the real heroics. OKC got a bit desperate and started to employ a hack-Asik (hack-a-Turk?) strategy in the fourth quarter. Despite a few misses, Omer came through with some big free throws down the stretch (13-18 FTs for the game) and the Thunder never quite made a run to scare the Rockets.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 36 points, but he went 0-5 from the field in the fourth quarter and failed to score a single point in the final period.
The Rockets are still alive, and OKC will take a tenuous 3-2 series lead to Houston on Friday night for Game 6.
Celtics 92, Knicks 86
The Boston Celtics looked to be in big trouble when they fell behind 3-0 in their opening round series against the Knicks, but on Wednesday they managed to stay alive with a resurrected offense. Jeff Green (18), Brandon Bass (17), Jason Terry (17), Kevin Garnett (16) and Paul Pierce (16) all scored in double figures as Doc Rivers condensed his rotation to seven players in the biggest game of Boston's season.
Carmelo Anthony put in 22 points, but it took him 24 shots to do it, and J.R. Smith shot 3-14 from the field as the Knicks sputtered a bit. Seth Rosenthal of Knicks blog Posting and Toasting lamented the fact that this has suddenly become a series in his game recap:
So, here we sit. 3-2. All the Knicks must do to end this series is play like themselves, if only just on offense, for one game-- shit, even half a game. All they must do to complete a historic collapse is play unlike themselves while the Celtics hit jumpers in consecutive games. That just happened, so it's certainly possible. I don't know what to expect in Game 6, nor do I know what to expect in Game 7 (besides me retch-weeping myself to sleep for a couple nights) if it comes to that. This is uncharted territory-- a little eddy of advantageous standing and turning momentum. It's a strange spot to be in. If you know where this is headed...well, you understand this team a lot better than I do. All I know is, like I and a lot of you mentioned in the thread, this series is now beating me up the way I initially thought it would, then stupidstupidstupidly thought it wouldn't after a few early wins.
Now the Knicks have to win in Boston again to avoid a winner-take-all Game 7.
Double-digit victories have become the staple of the opening round series between the Pacers and the Hawks, and it was Indiana's turn on Wednesday night. The Hawks edged out a 22-21 lead after 12 minutes, but the Pacers won each of the final three quarters and held Atlanta to 33.3 percent shooting on the evening. Everything was a struggle for the Hawks, and Johan Petro (2-3) was the only player for Atlanta to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
David West (24), Paul George (21) and Roy Hibbert (18) combined to score 63 points as Indiana shot 50.7 percent from the field and out-rebounded Atlanta 51-28. The actual games have been a bit short on drama, but now the sheer weight of the result in Game 6 will make it must-see-TV.